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Heat preps for Thunder with win over Jazz

The SportsXchange

MIAMI -- LeBron James doesn't care if his methods are unorthodox.

He cares only about positive results, which is what he got again Saturday night when he had 30 points, nine rebounds and seven assists to lead the Heat to a 105-89 victory over the Utah Jazz.

The Heat (18-6) won their fourth in a row and held an opponent under 100 points for the seventh consecutive game.

It was also James' highest-scoring game since he had 31 against Golden State on Dec. 12.

Next up for James and the Heat is their first game against the Thunder since Miami beat Oklahoma City in the NBA Finals.

What makes the Heat-Thunder rivalry unusual is that James and OKC star Kevin Durant spent a good part of the offseason working out together.

"Everyone wants us to hate each other," James said. "But we respect each other. We told each other that if we're not working toward meeting in June (in the NBA Finals), we are doing a discredit to ourselves."

When told that most rival superstars don't work out with each other, James didn't flinch.

"That's not our concern," he said. "We can't worry about what other greats have done."

James said he and "KD" are close but not as close as he is with teammate Dwyane Wade, who added 21 points and seven rebounds and tied a season high with seven assists on Saturday.

The Heat, playing without flu-ridden forward Chris Bosh, were able to neutralize Utah's larger front line, outrebounding the Jazz 39-38.

Shane Battier, who hadn't started for the Heat since Nov. 24, responded with 15 points. Fellow forward Udonis Haslem added six points and nine rebounds.

"Shane and UD were throwing their bodies around with no regard to their health," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "They were colliding, hitting.

"Shane is the ultimate utility man. There are reasons why we went after him every year (in a potential trade). He can play any role, and his confidence is always there. He will make an impact."

Wade also praised Battier and Haslem.

"They're both 6-8 on a good day," Wade said. "They did an unbelievable job."

The Heat shot 52 percent from the floor. The Heat is 13-0 when shooting over 50 percent.

The Jazz (14-14) lost for the fourth time in five games. Starting guard Mo Williams was held to five points in 16 minutes and did not play in the second half due to a thumb injury. An X-ray was performed, but no results were announced.

"We'll see how it feels (Sunday)," Williams said. "I can't feel it right now. It reminds me of the feeling I had in 2008. It's the same feeling. I'm just crossing my fingers that the MRI is negative."

Marvin Williams led Utah with 16 points and Paul Millsap scored 11.

Utah also got scoring off the bench from three young players who were all top-10 draft picks within the past three years. Gordon Hayward had 15 points, Derrick Favors had 10 and Enes Kantor scored four.

But the Jazz shot just 41 percent and had 19 turnovers. The Jazz have failed to reach 100 points in six consecutive games, a season-high streak.

As for the Heat's next opponent, Spoelstra said he started thinking about the Thunder as soon as the Jazz game was over -- not that it's any different from other games in that regard.

"As soon as our game ends," he said, "our next opponent's folder is waiting for me on my desk."

NOTES: James extended his personal record by not committing a foul in the past six-plus games, totaling 251 minutes. He also has six 30-point games this season. ... Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said he sees James playing hard despite not fouling. "He's maybe smarter than everybody," Corbin said. "I don't think he takes plays off. He just knows how to play and be aggressive and not foul." ... The Jazz complete their four-game road trip with Sunday's game at Orlando. They follow that with home games Wednesday (Golden State) and Friday (Clippers).
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